PRINT April 2010


Thomas Hoving

THOMAS HOVING’S DOUBLE LIFE, as art historian and arts administrator, was in both its dimensions driven by much the same set of obsessions—a passion for beauty in its most flamboyant artistic embodiments, and an insatiable lust for the publicity that went with celebrity. These qualities prompted a number of decisions that laid the groundwork of the museum as we know it today. And this was perhaps the true crowning achievement of his famous tenure as director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, from March 1967 until June 1977.

The history of Hoving’s acquisitions for the institution, beginning with the magnificent Bury Saint Edmunds cross—an intricate carving in the medium of walrus ivory, which he chased down and purchased for the Cloisters—led to his appointment as curator of the department of medieval art at the Met in 1965; and the program of spectacular exhibitions that he

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